Archive for January, 2015

Jan
28

A Taste of Older Bordeaux 01-03-15

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We had a wonderful opportunity to sample some Bordeaux wines which had some bottle age recently.  As always, we are thankful to all who brought them & shared.

1981 Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou  b3

This has been a property, which for me over the years, has been hard to predict what you will get in terms of true quality for the dollar.  Being a Second Growth, when they hit the nail on the head, the resulting wine can be unforgettable (1959 & 1961 were like that).  However, there are many other years, where the dollars warranted by its Second Growth status seems to be over priced.  Still, there is a reason why this property garnered a Second Growth status.  One can smell it in the wine, even in this fully matured 1981.  Yes, it is very light, approachable AND VERY mature (perhaps pre-maturely aged), but the nose had the pedigree, intricacy & character, albeit a bit washed out & therefore vague.  A pretty wine nonetheless.

aa042000 Chateau Leoville Barton

This wine sure got a lot of hype upon its release & ending up with a 97 point score from 1 publication & 95 from the other.  Today, this wine still shows a lot of stuffing, ripe fruit & structure, which has been surprisingly slow to evolve, considering it is now 15 years old.  Some would say this is a vin de climat, as it certainly benefited from a generous amount of sunshine & it will have a lot to say once it really opens up again.  I just hope that as opulent, lavish & intense the stuffing of this wine is, the terroir & Second Growth qualities are too.

2000 Chateau Lynch Bages  aa06

What a huge contrast in comparison to the 2000 Leoville Barton, we tasted just before it.  Graphite, pencil lead, camphor, tobacco, cedar–lots of classic Pauillac character AND more masculine then the Leoville.  This wine, too, has depth intensity & structure for much longer cellaring.  It actually made me appreciate the 2000 Leoville Barton even more.

b142000 Chateau La Conseillante

This was a very eye catching wine, probably because it was much more open & strutting its stuff.  The fruit is ripe, dense, classy, provocative with lots of finesse, elegance & class.  My wife added the words….absolutely delicious.  VERY impressive, to say the least!

1970 Chateau Latour  011

This wine brings back so many wonderful memories, as it was one of the first Grand wines I had ever experienced.  I was absolutely floored by this wine on first taste.  It was immense, incredibly intense, masculine, powerful & grand.  This was a monument!  & built to last.  Black & murky.  Although I adored the ’70 Lafite’s incredible perfume, ’70 Palmer’s class & the innate grandeur of the ’70 Petrus, the 1970 Latour was for me the wine of the vintage in Bordeaux.  Furthermore, I have been fortunate to taste it, a surprisingly amount of times over the years since & therefore it really is one of those I have watched evolve through its various stages.  I was very apprehensive to try the 1970 today.  I had put this wine on a pedestal, so how could any wine live up to such high expectations.  Yes….it did.  I loved the maturity….still with grandeur, sophistication….a classic……timeless.  Thank you,. thank you, thank you.  Michael also graciously opened a 1982, which sadly was corked.  The wine’s wonderful ripeness & amazing depth, however, clearly showed this wine has a VERY long way to go.

Chateau Cos d’Estournel

For Carl’s birthday, a bunch of friends showed up, armed with a whole slew of venerable wines from Champagne to solera Montilla to the evening’s piece de resistance–a vertical of Chateau Cos d’ Estournel.      aa08

 

 

 

……1973…1983…2 x 1985….1988…1989….1990….1995….1996….1997….1998….1999…2000.
What a golden opportunity!  Thank you all for sharing.  The highlights?  The second bottle of 1985–much fresher with a solid core & great structure.  1990–really quite closed, but it certainly has all of the right stuff.  1995–again, another wine really quite closed, but one to watch out for.  1996–along with the 1985, probably showed the best on the night.  But, who’s choosing?  The overall experience was really amazing!

 

Categories : General, Red, Wine, Wines Revisted
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Jan
21

A Trio of Sweet Wines 12-31-14

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In some parts of the world these would be classified as dessert wines…..in other parts “stickie’s”….for me, pure nectar.  AND, the amazing thing is that these 3 wines may have started out as sweet, but now because of the considerable bottle age of each, the once apparent sweetness has turned into more of a visceral creaminess/viscosity AND the wine’s minerality is thankfully once again clearly visible.  Really quite fascinating wines.  b21

1983 JJ Prum Spatlese “Wehlener Sonnenuhr” 

Here is the idiosyncratic genius of Manfred Prum & his iconic vineyard in one of his best vintages.  (Manfred also produced one of the best Eisweins I have ever had in 1983).  Such great purity, filigree & pinpoint balance, all in great harmony, after 32 years of bottle age.

b21983 Chateau d’Yquem

I still vividly remember all of the hoopla created, when this wine was released.  At 32 years of age, it is still an adolencent.  It still has much more to resolve & therefore a LONG way to go.  Save your bottles.

1970 Moulin Touchais Anjou  b22

Talk about obscure!  This is 45 year old Chenin Blanc from France’s Loire Valley!  And, unlike Vouvray & its limestone soils, this estate’s vineyard has more rock & schist (& some clay & limestone) to its soil composition, which results in a VERY different character, which is plain to see now that the high residual sugar levels have had a chance to resolve itself after 45 years.  There are all kinds of smells, layering, nuances & intricacies, beyond just fruit & spice qualities.  I suggest you serve such a wine in a big 22 ounce glass, so you can swirl & sniff for a long time so it has a chance to open up.  Wines like this don’t come around too often.  Yes, in a previous blog, I noted that this winery had been controversial at one time on the authenticity of its winemaking claims & ageworthy prowess, but I suggest you smell & taste this wine & judge for yourself.

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Jan
19

Aged Rustic Reds

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Yes, we have been tasting quite a slew of aged wines lately.  Thank you to all who come by to share!

b101998 Elio Altare Barolo “Brunate”

Although quite modern in style, I find Elio Altare’s Barolo wines are much more elegant & refined than those from other contemporaries such as Paolo Scavino or Domenico Clerico & certainly Angelo Gaja & some tasters (even knowledgeable/experienced ones) may be underwhelmed at first because of Altare’s style.  This 1998 was quite a stylish, classy, highly refined, majestic red with superb elegance & balance.  Having said that, I would also say the pedigree of this bottling was surprisingly muted, even after considerable time of being open.  Let it sit in your cellar.  I really think with 25 or so more years, this will be a glorious, wonderfully perfumed aristocrat, which tasters will wish they had put away more bottles.

1998 Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape  aa2

I remember being wow-ed when the 1998 was released, by its immensity, sun drenched depth & prolific structure & tannins.  Yes, it was a monster.  It’s really nice to see now, however, the breed & stoniness of the La Crau vineyard making its way back to the forefront, both in the nose & the taste & all of the parts are starting to resolve & harmonize.  Make no mistake, this is an infant with quite a ways to go, but one can now get a better feel for where it is headed.

0141999 Alvaro Palacios L’Ermita

There is no doubt that Alvaro Palacios is one of Spain’s true game changers in the wine arena.  His is a fascinating story, as he left his family’s domaine in Rioja to first study abroad, including an eye opening, imagination stirring stint with Christian Mouiex at Chateau Petrus, before founding his own winery in Priorat, Spain.  Although his first major acquisition was Finca Dofi in 1990, it really was the later acquisition of L’Ermita, a higly revered, steep, northfacing 4 acre parcel of well drained schist soils, which would position him to shoot for the stars.  L’Ermita (planted in 1900 to 1940) is not only one of Spain’s most iconic superstar wines, its meteoric rating, accolades & considerable pricing would create, along with Pingus, a whole new niche for wines in his country, similar to what Sassicaia & Angelo Gaja had done in Italy.  And, like what Sassicaia has done for Bolgheri & the Tuscan coast, L’Ermita (& Pingus) has inspired a boom of vineyard & winery growth in the Priorat appellation.  I must say, however, I think it is too early to make a true qualitative call on this phenomenon & specifically L’ Ermita, given that 1993, or so I was told, was the first vintage.  My quandry?  Although the winemaking is top notch, I wonder if that is what the hoopla is more about.  Granted, L’Ermita is mainly old vine Grenache with small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon & perhaps Carignane blended in, BUT I don’t seem to get the depth of character, vinosity or breed of other red wines in this upper echelon. Since I have such limited experience tasting L’Ermita, having had only the 1995, 1998, 2001 (3 times) & this 1999 (4 times), I guess only time will tell.

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Jan
14

A Trio of 2005 Italians

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The 2005 vintage was considered to produce some very profound wines in Italy.  We have tasted some pretty, sundrenched, resoundingly structured trophy end RED wines which are seemingly built for long term aging.  We thought it would be fun & enlightening to taste three 2005 Italians–2 Reds….& 1 iconic white….….now 9, (almost 10) years old, just to see where they are in the development curve.   Rest assured, I decanted these 5 or 6 hours before the tasting.  Just another really good opportunity to learn!

 

a032005 Gravner Ribolla Gialla “Amphora”

an indigenous Italian grape variety made in the old ways (wild yeast in clay amphora & buried in the ground just as the Romans did)…by true iconic winemaker Josko Gravner.  This “orange” wine featured wonderful minerality, with all kinds of idiosyncratic, crazy nuances, which just seem to unveil as the wine opened up.  Seamless & remarkably UN-heavy though masculine & resoundingly structured in style.  It really was an interesting glass of wine.

 

2005 Corte de Signori Amarone della Valpolicella  a02

70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella & 5% Molinara—dried out on straw mats for 3 months & aged in ovals for 30 months.  I am not a huge fan of Amarone, as I find them to really be about ripeness & over ripeness rather than terroir.  I could definitely say the same about alot of dessert wines.  Yet, after 30 or 40 years of bottle age, I interestingly find that the terroir can once again emerge after the wine has had a chance to resolve itself.  I wonder if that also happens with Amarone?  Although I have tasted some older Bertani bottlings, I am still not convinced.

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a012005 Paolo Scavino Barolo “Bric del Fiasc”

one of the showiest, most flambuoyant, upper tier single vineyard Barolo.  Definitely ultra-modern & way over the top for me.  In my early years, I always thought youthful Gaja Barbaresco was too oaky & over the top too.  Then, one time, I experienced a glorious 20 year old 1978 Costa Russi & that completely changed my view.  I am wondering if that too can happen with the Paolo Scavino wines?

Categories : Wine, Wines Revisted
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10 or 11 years ago, Cheryle & I met Dino Coro’ & Isabella Zambon aabb01& their two beautiful, young children—Jessica & Filippo, as they dined in our Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas restaurant.  Every year, they would come back to vacation on the Big Island of Hawaii & make periodic “shopping” trips to Oahu & dine at night either at VINO or Hiroshi’s.  They have become such dear friends over the years & we have watched Jessica & Filippo grow up & blossom.  They all really warm my heart.

A few years ago, while on a wine trip in Germany, Cheryle really wanted to go to Venice to see the city, but also to see our friends.  We discovered that their Osteria Oliva Nera eaterie ab02is generally regarded as the finest restaurant in Venice & we had 2 great meals there. We were also amazed at how many people from Hawaii have dined there too & every year when the Coro’ family came to Honolulu thereafter, their Hawaii friends would get together with them in VINO on a special night.  For 2015, after a hiatus of 3 years, the Coro’ family (Isabella, Jessica & Filippo) came back….& January 8th was that special night.

Rather than asking Isabella to cook, VINO Chef Keith Endo aabb02came up with a special menu & we came up with the wine pairings.  For all who know the Coro’ family, this was their chance to say hello.  For those who do not know them, this was a chance to savor some of Chef Keith’s foods AND meet some very special people, (which may come in handy if they ever were to go to Venice in the near future).

Here was the menu—

dinoaperitif—Sommariva Prosecco–a toast to Dino Coro’

Crispy English Pea Tortellini–served with charred Kahuku corn & smoked Big Island pork

WINE: Corte Gardoni Bardolino “Chiaretto”  ab08

UOVA–with sage brown butter sauce 

WINE: Hofstatter Pinot Bianco

ab09Compressed Chioggia Beets–served with fried cheese, pickled hearts of palm, prosciutto & balsamic drizzle

WINE: DeMedici Lambrusco “Quercioli”  ab10

Crispy Pork Porchetta–stuffed with mushrooms & served with charred Spring vegetables, home-made cavatelli & pork jus

WINE:  2006 Friggiali Brunello di Montalcino

Pear Tart–with caramel sauce

Yes, it was a very special night.  Thank you to all who came.  ab01Also, many thanks to Isabella, Jessica & Filippo.  I know Dino was also there amongst us & I thank you for coming.  As I have said many times in the past, I am somehow connected to this family beyond what I can explain.  They truly warm my heart.

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Jan
11

White Burgundies recently tasted

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Boy, it is hard to keep this blog current, with all of the wines we fortunately taste.  Our VINO restaurant seems to draw in a wine crazy group of friends, who are so bent on sharing.  We are sooooo grateful to say the least.  Here are some of the highlights–

2005 Coche Dury Meursault Premier Cru “Perrieres”  b8b12

2008 Coche Dury Meursault Premier Cru “Perrieres”

As avid wine collectors well know, Coche Dury produces TWO of the most celebrated collectible white wines–the Grand Cru Corton Charlemagne & the Meursault Premier Cru–Perrieres.  Over the years, I have heard so many insiders say how Perrieres should be a Grand Cru vineyard & these 2 wines certainly support that thought.   I am often a skeptic with such clamour but these 2 wines are majestic, glorious wines of remarkable intensity, power, intellect, grandeur & pedigree.   The 2005 is a monster, so virile, masculine & with surreal intensity & immensity.   What a real shame it was to drink at a mere 9 years of age.  The 2008, on the other hand, has a riveting, mesmerizing, clearer purity/transparency, eventhough it too was mega-intense & well structured.  I often scratch my head in wonderment of what could be, when I see adjacent parcels of Yves Boyer Martenot on one side & on the other side a parcel sourced to Maison Latour.

2003 Raveneau Chablis Grand Cru “Valmur”   bb01

Talk about having a wine at an ideal time of its life!!!!  Pure mineral, with lots of pedigree, precision, refinement & ethereal-ness.  Brilliant!   Wow!  I know some discount the 2003 vintage in France some, but I must say that this wine really showed me otherwise.  Furthermore, where Raveneau’s Les Clos & Blanchots bottlings seem riper & more showy, I typically find his Valmur to be much more ethereal, as was the case here.   I prefer to believe producers of this echelon really can show different perspectives on a vineyard because of vintage growing conditions……rather than me choosing a specific vintage I like.  Here is a case in point!

2001 Francois Jobard Meursault Premier Cru “Charmes”

I am & have been an avid fan of the Meursault wines from Francois Jobard.  I am finding more & more, that the numbers of believers like me are dwindling.  This style of old fashion winemaking is just not en vogue.  I am sorry for Francois & his son Antoine, for the undeserved under appreciation, but selfishly, it means more for me & at far better pricing.  I guess I am shooting myself in the foot for even writing about this calamity, but I cannot help myself.  Every time I am fortunate to have an older bottle, & after 2 1/2 hours of breathing, I am just completely taken by wines like this.  The Jobard Charmes & especially his Genevrieres bottling, in my humble opinion, deserve Grand Cru status, just as the Coche Dury Meursault Perrieres does.  Charmes seems finer, more delicate & the Genevrieres more stately with more grandeur.  I suggest you use a big glass, so you can swirl & swirl to coax out the magnificance.  It really is worth it.

Categories : White, Wine, Wines Revisted
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Jan
04

A Quartet of Grower Champagne

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Our New Year’s Eve winetasting in VINO, included 3 top echelon “grower” Champagne. aa1 (A friend brought the 4th, just to share).  The recoltant manipulant (grower) category of Champagne seems to be really catching on & growing across the country.  Here are 3 certainly worth checking out!

b16Jean Milan Blanc de Blancs “Grand Cru” 

100% Chardonnay from the Grand Cru Village of Oger.  Surprisingly powerful,  penetrating!

Vilmart Grand Cellier “Premier Cru”  b17

80% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir, actually from a single parcel in Rilly la-Montagne.  No ML, 10 months in OLD barrels.  50 months sur latte.  One of the true standout “grower” Champagnes.

b18b23

 

Jacques Selosse Blanc de Blancs Initial “Grand Cru”

Jacques Selosse Blanc de Blancs Exquise “Grand Cru”
100% Chardonnay from the villages of Avize, Cramant & Oger.  Typically for the Initial bottling Selosse uses the lower slope vines of the 3 villages AND blends 3 different vintages.  Then for the Exquise bottling, he will add a little more dosage , so there is a hint of sweetness (typically around 24 grams per liter).  On this night the Initial tasted stark, pure & minerally (to the point of being more Burgundy-like than Champagne like).  It was exciting tasting the Exquise, which I do not think is imported into the U.S. or perhaps in  very minute quantities, side by side.  It gives one a very different perspective.

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